The conservative Rabbi of a small Massachusetts town inserts himself into the secular and criminal affairs of his congregation, illustrating that the same hypocracies, connivances and plots have been at work in American Jewry since at least 1960….
A few Jewish words referring to a few ritual baked goods eaten by a few Jews does not a Jewish novel make. Nor does a description of a modestly clad woman with her hair tied back by a long scarf. If the Peter Decker novels wielded some specific charm by virtue of their glimpse into orthodox Jewish life, that charm is gone. Gone too is the charm of an utterly believable relationship of utterly believable characters: husband and wife Peter and Rina. Instead we have an infinitely patient, infinitely wise, infinitely understanding wife who agrees with her husband agreeably, and a pouty teenaged daughter that contributes nothing to the conversation or the scenery but red hair. A police procedural on Prozac.
I am reading three books, disrespectfully, carelessly, unthinkingly.
After finishing The Girl Who Kicked A Hornet’s Nest I decided that there was nothing more to read. Nothing else to read. Nothing to satisfy the specific hunger for more Girl. Nothing to rejoin the amorous journalist and the girl. What a pity. Out of all those beautiful, lithe, mythically wise women the journalist ends up with a weight lifter. Disappointing. Like all men, really.
Maybe it wasn’t really Larsson who wrote the whole thing. Maybe it was his girlfriend. Which would explain why the rest of the world is reading “Men Who Hate Women” and Americans, fat, hypocritical and prudish are reading about hornet’s nests. But now we have run out of hornets nests. What remains?
Something named “The Assassins of Athens” which rhymes, ridiculously. We stopped after three rich schoolboys bragged to a homicide inspector about the routine they routinely used to pick upgirls at bars which they were not old enough to drink in…..
The second begins with a Jewish wedding and progresses intellectually to a classic old fashioned domination of a good Jewish girl from Scarsdale by a cold English cad. She loves it. Then the plot turns limp and the Englishmen confesses his impotence, and the book dooms itself to the whining chic lit bin.
We get information in clumps, tangles, bunches. There are facts, mixed up with opinions, references, foreign words, sounds and descriptions referring to where we are talking, what is going on where we are talking, the distraction-ridden machinery of a technologically frenzied environment, analogies dragged in from confused personal archives, elaborations drawing on gossip, rumours, and mother disciplines, percentages, abbreviations, brand-names, phrases in mixed tongues, side notes referencing the inaccuracies of the company we keep and the associations we accumulate.
Dialogue. Which is what McBain does. Consider Carella and Parker questioning an ex-boyfriend:
So tell us how you happened to break up?
It was the Passion. The Mel Gibson movie. I told Alicia it was Anti-semitic. She disagreed. I’m Jewish; we got into an argument.
So whose idea was it to split up?
My mother’s. I live with my mother. She said if we were going to fight already over a farkaktmovie that was just the beginning…..I hate Mel Gibson.
Thirty seconds to peel a character like an egg.
Ollie Weeks is asking Parker for advise because Ollie was kissed in the mouth by Patricia the other night after he played piano for her family. Yes, this is the fat, suspicious, comical sociopath who hates everyone equally. Except that now he has a sweet piano teacher, and a sweet girlfriend and is looking ten pounds less hateful.
Kling, meanwhile, is asking Carella for advise. About Sharon, who he loves and whom he followed and who now refuses to talk to him.
“Everybody’s always innocent, Brown said. Nobody ever did anything. Catch ’em with the bloody hatchet in their hands they say this ain’t my hatchet this is my uncle’s hatchet…Wonder anybody’s in jail at all there’s so many innocent people around….
Brown and Kling are interviewing the head of Baldwin University’s English Department who is wearing a purple butterfly bow tie and telling Brown that “we’ve never anything like this happen before….”. Brown is wondering if his wife Caroline would go for him in a tie like that one…
Because conversations are never just about information and even information is never just about information. Because even cops hear by drifting in and out of their own conversations. Hearing from where they are being heard.
Ghoul: An evil spirit or demon in Muslim folklore believed to plunder graves and feed on corpses.
There is a ghoulish, golemic, East European element that surfaces in the life of every dishy Jewish blonde A.D.A. in NYC. A specific perversion, a senselessness knocks at her door just before it becomes evil, or criminal, or comic.
She is buried alive in the Botanical Gardens by a paraphiliac with a love of Poe. She is held captive in the Metropolitan Opera while a stage hand fingers her inner thigh. She opens a letter which bursts into flames and spoils her hairdo.
Indeed, one of the most lovable qualities of Alex(andra) Cooper, daughter and heir of a man who invented a widget, is the way the forces of weirdness tag at her heels.
For example. She talks to a Turkish intern who likes to rape unconscious women while Mike and Mercer try to trace his number. They can’t. Alex groans: “How come this works on T.V. and in the movies but when I need it the system fails?”
Well, blondie, because the 212 area code is not from the Upper West Side but from Ankara, Turkey … It’s not incompetence. It’s not idiocy. It’s something else.
“Karp leaned back in his chair, swivelled to face the window, chewed on a pencil. Murrow, seeing this, left quietly, closing the door behind him. He knew these were the signs that Karp was entering Karpland . . .” as are we, God bless us, until Tanenbaum decides to make gefilte fish or Marlene (MarLEEYENE!) stops getting into trouble. Here is I LOVE LUCY, 2002, with a Jewish husband and twins. “Giancarlo burst in, grabbed two chocolate covered donuts, . . .snatched up a table knife and stabbed it into Karp’s breakfast cereal, while laughing maniacally. “Guess what I am, Dad.” “An idiot?” stated Karp. ‘No. A CEREAL KILLER!’ …the boy departed, hooting.” (paraphrased) Another typical morning at the Karp feudal ‘menage’ — before Lucy’s boyfriend’s mother and labor leader father get murdered, before Marlene decides to find out who did it, before Karp gets appointed to clean up West Virginia, before Giancarlo gets shot and Marlene calls in the VietCong to exterminate the bad guys. “Kill them. Kill them all.” Yep. Marlene always makes a mess. Can Karp clean this one up? Read and laugh and see.
A distressing picture of the unhappy situation of the losing class within a classless society. Grace is a 37 year old female loser within this losing class. She lives at the edge of a self-consciously wealthy Palm Beach ghetto of sectional wealth. She has a teenage bitch-daughter with a whine. She has an old dildo.
We meet her behind the cosmetics counter telling a very important hag that no product on earth will fix her face. She is summarily fired from this last of a series of pink collar jobs, after an earful of wise advice. Go to funerals. Find a very rich very lonely very old man. She does.
There are women who stalk Jewish funerals, offering to dispose of the dead wife’s clothes. Grace imitates them. She is good at it.
She finds a vital, vulnerable, well groomed well off Jew. She models the old clothes on her young shikse body. The rest is elementary.